The big news from this morning was the GQ interview with Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. In part of a very lengthy interview, Robertson uses rather straightforward language to describe his preferences as a heterosexual male. Part of this description includes reasons he is not a homosexual male. (Think body parts.)Frankly I find concern about that particular section to be absurd. What do people think gay men do, hold hands, give shoulder massages and kiss each other on the cheek? Salty, perhaps, but erroneous, no.
The truly problematic part for Robertson in today’s culture is that he
Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.
This led to the second huge Robertson news story of the day: his suspension by cable TV network A&E from Duck Dynasty tapings. Said the network:
We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.
Methinks A&E is protesting all the way to the bank. Suspend the star but not cancel the show?
How ironic a network that makes millions under the First Amendment guarantees, does not defend it for one of its biggest stars.
Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.
Whether Robertson’s words are “vile and extreme” are up for debate. But, his right to say them? Is that not protected?
The once upon a time guide to TV programming, now apparently a culture shaper, TV Guide could not so much as hide its disdain even in the title of its report: Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Spews Anti-Gay Comments in GQ Profile.
My question is where are the members of the LGBT community who still believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution? Does free speech only count during Pride weeks and Pride parades? Does the right to speak one’s mind only apply to defense of privacy and not to the opposition?
There is a First Amendment. It guarantees freedom of speech. There is a protected right to speak one’s mind, even when it goes against the prevailing thinking. Even when it goes against “tolerance.”
Does the LGBT community believe in the First Amendment for all Americans, or only those who believe like them? There have been many people who have fought and died in defense of the Constitution, in defense of the right of the LGBT community to do exactly what Phil Robertson and many others call “sin.” Many of these who fought and died believed exactly like Robertson. They died to protect the freedoms people with whom they agreed and disagreed.
Time will tell whether gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons fully support the First Amendment or merely pay it lip service. But for now, if you are out there, your voices are not being heard.
UPDATE 2: Comments are now closed.Read More »
In the spirit of the year-end season, here are the Top 13 posts at Kingdom in the Midst as determined by number of page views.
1. Did Starbucks’ Howard Schultz really say, “We don’t want your business?” (This one also had a lot of views when cross-posted at Christian Post.)
2. Schools, sex and degradation: losing the sacred (This one likely had the most shares in social media from Kingdom in the Midst.)
5. Depression: When the black dog howls (This post was, I believe, the most linked-to post of the year.)
8. Sex trafficking: One survivor’s story (This four part series was the most read series of the year.)
Thanks to everyone who read posts this year, commented and supported Kingdom in the Midst through advertising or Amazon purchases. Your participation in this journey is greatly appreciated!
Top 13 graphic by Christie Garrett.Read More »
Following the Facebook play-by-play on my colonoscopy last week, my friend Dan Kassis sent me this poem. Hisfather, Tom, who has also suffered the indignity of a colonoscopy, captured it in verse. You may recognize the meter from ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. You may never think the same way of that poem again.
Tom wrote this for his high school class alumni newsletter. And now, in honor of all those whose gastroenterologist has gone the wrong way up the exit ramp, The Christmas Colonoscopy.
T’was two weeks before Christmas
When I got the bad news.
Five years had passed
Since my ego was last bruised.
How quickly time went by
Since I lay on my side.
And lost all my dignity
When I went for that ride.
So I’m back in this place
and in the very same bed.
With visions of sugar prunes
dancing in my head.
The Fleet did it’s job,
I’m all purged now and prepped.
In angst and trepidation
I await the next step.
When what to my wondering
eyes should appear…
Why, it’s smirking nurse Ratchet
and her scary sneer.
Her assistant was cheery
As she recited my risks…
Now hurting, now bleeding,
Now impacted discs.
I moaned and I groaned
And tried to make light.
But this humorless nurse
just gave me a fright.
She came into the room
Carrying the tube,
A screen on one end,
enclosed in a cube.
It looped ’round her neck
three times I was sure.
She seemed way too eager
to start on my tour.
I pointed past my shoulder
as the tube dragged on the floor,
and suggested in the future
she might use the back door.
She chuckled and snorted
and started her song:
“Believe me when I say,
That’s been the plan all along!”
I voiced a complaint
Then she said with a glare,
“If you say any more
You’ll get the tube that is square!”
With my IV in place
I started to doze
And thought about Santa
As up the chimney he rose.
My doc looked like Santa
And I heard him say,
“Merry Christmas to you,
Up, Up and Awayyyyyyy!”
The End (As it were…)
And to all, a good night.Read More »
This is a problem.
Megyn Kelly is a popular personality on Fox News. In a recent segment, Kelly took up her sword to challenge a Slate.com writer, Aisha Harris’s assertion that Santa Claus should no longer be white. Harris calls for a complete makeover: make Santa a penguin (since penguins are black and white?)
Kelly countered with “For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”
Since Santa is a mythical figure, debating his race seems pretty pointless. Let him be to every child what that child wants: Anglo, Central Asian, European, Africa, Inuit, whatever. Insisting that Santa “is white” seems to be an eye-roller made worse by the fact that a “professional journalist” said it. Suggesting that Santa be a penguin (no representing for the brown folks here) is just as silly. There is at least a historical tie from Santa Claus to St. Nicholas, a Turkish bishop from the 3rd century.
Newly discovered evidence reveals St. Nicholas was not a penguin.
This, however is not the real problem. Around the 1:45 mark, Kelly asserts that Jesus was white!
Huh? To make it worse, her three panelists smile, have no shocked looks, or indicate in any way they disagree. This is bizarre I am not even sure what it represents except a complete disconnect with the historical Jesus. Jesus Christ looked more like this Palestinian resident of modern Bethlehem than a citizen of Utah.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah foretold a general description of Jesus the Messiah:
He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. (Isaiah 53:2, HCSB)
There is no indication from the eyewitnesses of His life that Jesus looked any different than any other 1st century Jewish male. So normal did Jesus look when Judas led the soldiers to arrest Jesus, he had to kiss Jesus to identify Him.
Why didn’t Judas just say, “Go into the garden, hang a left, and arrest the palest dude you see”? Because Jesus was not white.Read More »
Watch the Canadian airline WestJet work a little Christmas magic on a plane full of passengers.Read More »
This week witnessed the passing of a giant. Nelson Mandela was as powerful a man as modern history has known. Irish rock star and social activist, Bono, eulogized Mandela thusly:
Mandela would be remembered as a remarkable man just for what happened—and didn’t happen—in South Africa’s transition. But more than anyone, it was he who rebooted the idea of Africa from a continent in chaos to a much more romantic view, one in keeping with the majesty of the landscape and the nobility of even its poorer inhabitants. He was also a hardheaded realist, as his economic policy demonstrated. To him, principles and pragmatism were not foes; they went hand in hand. He was an idealist without -naiveté, a compromiser without being compromised.
Our nation has lost its greatest son. Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.
As one would expect, praises for Mabidi (Mandela’s tribal name) poured in from all corners. Some were captured by this Ugandan news outlet, New Vision.
[W]hen we look at his legacy in terms of the overthrow of apartheid, we recall the fact that Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the most influential theologians in America at the middle of the 20th century, argued that there are times in which certain men, certain historical figures, appear to be historically necessary, even if they are far from historically perfect. That seems so often to be the case in a fallen world. In a sinful world, a world in which every dimension is marked by sin, the most effective political leaders are those who have the strongest convictions; but often those strong convictions and ambitions are met by a somewhat less than stellar character.
Mohler’s article is worth your few minutes.
What sets Mohler’s writing apart from many is his willingness to remind readers that Mandela’s start did not include leadership on the world stage or the presidency of an African nation. Far from it. Mandela’s start as an international name was because he was what we most frequently term, a terrorist. To some this would be crying foul, the soccer equivalent might be pulling a red card on a dead man. Such a complaint might hold water if Mohler were wrong. It would be even more egregious had he not mentioned other of history’s famous terrorists: American George Washington, Zionist/Israelite Menachim Begin and Egyptian Anwar Sadat. (Speaking of historical ironies, all of them committed terrorism against the British. How’s that for world domination?)
It does not absolve terrorists of their tactics, it just raises the point that when we talk about terrorism, character, and historical change, we must think honestly.
Decades and centuries after events it becomes difficult to separate truth from whitewash. Had we lost the Revolutionary War, George Washington would not have been the father of anything. He would have been a traitor, likely hanged, during what current British history books would deem “The Colonial Uprising of 1775.” Because we won, though, we wrote the history and we are heroic in all outcomes.
This is why most Anglo-Americans think little if at all about the Trail of Tears, and multiple massacres of Native Americans until we “blessed them” by allowing them to keep land already theirs or forcing them from their land onto federally provided lands. Native American reprisals would likely have been labeled terrorism by today’s press.
The death of Mandela allows us to think about what it means to be a terrorist, and how the language of terrorism is used to frame political debate.
[pullquote]He would have been a traitor, likely hanged, during what current British history books would deem “The Colonial Uprising of 1775.”[/pullquote]No dominant or winning side refers to themselves as terrorists. Terrorism is a way to designate the other side as the real problem. Ergo, the role of the U.S. and British in the overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadeq, remains a coup de tat. But, the student rebellion that overtook our embassy in 1979? Then President Carter used State of the Union to reference the hostages as “victims of terrorism and anarchy.” Terrorists, even when responding to aggression, are always the aggressors and, even when raising legitimate political concerns, are always anarchists. The ability to brandish “terrorist” and “terrorism” are word weapons as powerful as a military incursion.
Mohler’s calling out of Begin as a terrorist is unique among evangelicals, but helpful if we are to see beyond the political strategy of using the language of terror to win PR wars. Begin and David ben Gurion were terrorists according to current usage: from an underdog position, they used violence against the innocent to stir sympathy for their cause. From the view of the British, these were acts of terrorism. But, history looks on these as the fathers of their own country, heroes one and all.
But, the tables were turned on Israel. As their army moved through their newly established homeland occupying ancestral Palestinian towns, orchards and olive groves, some began to fight back. One of them was Yassir Arafat. Remember him? He was a terrorist according to most…but not to Nelson Mandela, who said, “Yasser Arafat was one of the outstanding freedom fighters of this generation, one who gave his entire life to the cause of the Palestinian people.”
Future history may record many now branded as terrorists in our current Middle Eastern milieu as freedom fighters and heroes. Time will tell. One generation following everyone in the world will remember many as heroes, world changers, and giants.
The language of terrorism hinges a door that swings both ways. Branding terrorists is a tacit admission of underlying cause(s) being ignored or instigated by the powerful.
Followers of Christ should not allow the narratives of world events to be dictated by governments or any press, national or international. We must always look for that which lay in the shadows, because it is there the truth is often found.
And so it goes…Read More »
I have been a follower of Christ for more than 30 years. During that time I have read innumerable books on Christian living, commentaries, study guides, Christian growth, and fiction. There is probably no category untouched. In addition to reading many books about the Christian life, I have poured over the Bible for both study and reading.
From all the books and commentaries I have used, though, if I were asked of a list of books followers of Jesus should read now to help them understand the Bible better, it would be these two: Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes, by Richards and O’Brien, and Fixing Abraham, by Chris Tiegreen.
Both of these books, in different ways, address one of the biggest problems 21st century Western Christians face–our cultural and temporal separation from the original Biblical events. This separation allows the centuries of cultural prejudice to color and confuse our understanding of scripture. Things that are “as plain as the nose on your face,” may in fact be as muddied as the puddle at your feet.
Using their past cross-cultural experience for a lens, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien explore how cultural differences actually blind us to a correct understanding of the scripture. They correctly note:
It is important for us to remember that when we read the Bible in our native language, mostly what has been changed is the words. Behind the words, now in a language we understand, remains that complex structure of cultural values, assumptions and habits of mind that does not translate easily, if at all. If we fail to recognize this–and we very often do–we risk misreading the Bible by reading foreign assumptions into it. Like Procrustes of Greek mythology, who shortened or lengthened his guests to fit his bed, our unconscious assumptions about language encourage us to reshape the biblical narrative to fit our framework.
Tiegreen, on the other hand, demonstrates how we have “tamed” our heroes of the Bible, often due to our lack of perception as to how radical those events were when then happened. Subtitled, “How Taming Our Bible Heroes Blinds Us To The Wild Ways Of God,” Tiegreen gives this example:
The Law was very explicit in its prohibitions against eating the blood in animal meat, to the degree that the very idea of eating or drinking any amount of blood was considered grosslyimmoral. And this wasn’t just a cultural taboo; it was divine law given at Mount Sinai by a thundering voice from heaven. “As for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off” (Leviticus 17:14). With this firmly in mind as an eternal, divine ordinance, imagine listening to Jesus teach one day and hearing the words, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves…For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink (John 6:53, 55, emphasis added).
If you read either of these quotes and thought, “Wow, never knew that,” these books are for you. If you thought, “I don’t get it,” these books are for you.
If we are to be good students of the Word, then the context of the narratives, cultural references, idioms and the like are incredibly important. These books will help you and/or your favorite Bible student learn how to better divide the Word of Truth.Read More »
My team has been working through the book Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. Subtitled, “How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter,” it deals primarily with two kinds of leaders: diminishers (those whose leadership suppresses the team’s intelligence) and multipliers (those whose leadership makes team members smarter).
Chapter five of Multipliers deals with leveraging the human capital in an organization or team by fostering debate. Wiseman and McKeown write:
Our research has shown that Diminishers tend to make decisions solo or with a small inner circle. As a result, they not only underutilize the intelligence around them, but they also leave the organization spinning instead of executing. Multipliers make decisions by first engaging people in debate–not only to achieve sound decisions, but also to develop collective intelligence and to ready their organizations to execute.
The concept of teams debating is not new territory. The ability to engage in honest debate is critical for team effectiveness as Patrick Lencioni demonstrated in his superb book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
1. You get more ideas. Not all ideas are great, but the more ideas you have the better the odds of getting great ones.
2. No idea gets rubber stamped. Leaders who diminish intelligence always look for and expect their ideas to be rubber stamped by the team. Automatic approval. Fostering debate renders this nearly impossible.
3. A debate format precludes individual team members from having to have the right answer. Every contribution can be appreciated without being the right answer. The freedom to suggest, compliment and criticize or reject is freeing.
4. Debate provokes good, even if not the perfect answers. Which is okay, because…
5. Good ideas becomes better as they are tweaked. As the best ideas bubble to the top, tweaking makes them even stronger.
6. It leads to greater buy-in. When people are vested, they are more supportive. Debate, rather than declaration, vests team members in the process and the goal.
7. The leader must defend his/her own ideas. This separates the multiplier from the diminisher. Good leaders may bring an idea to the table, may even have to lay ground rules from higher-ups, but always allows that idea to stand or fall on its own merit.
8. Even if a member’s specific idea is not chosen, the ability to debate all ideas does in fact contribute to the final idea. This is more than just buy-in. It is the knowledge that all ideas have contributed to the final product. The team would not have advanced without each input.
9. Debate weeds out the lesser ideas. This allows the leader to forego the need to say, “Y’know, that’s really a terrible idea.” In the process of debate the team will push bad ideas off the board.
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This year Hanukkah started the night before Thanksgiving which is just a little unusual.
2013 brings “Thanksgivingukkah.” Normally Hanukkah is celebrated around the time of Christmas or slightly earlier. It sometimes even stretches past New Year’s Day. This year it begins before Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888. This convergence between Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will not occur again for almost another 78,000 years.
78,000 years. You really must enjoy the mashup this time around.
Most American Christians know little of Hanukkah (also spelled “Chanukah,” “Chanuka,” “Chanukkah” and a few other renditions) apart from candles and Adam Sandler. Here’s a long explanation of the Jewish celebration. Here’s a summary.
This video by The Maccabeats (a nice play on Maccabees) is every bit as good as Sandler’s comic songs while enlightening viewers to the meaning of the celebration. Does not hurt that they use Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” for the tune.Read More »